Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Newly elected school board members from around the area will get the third of four intensive training sessions for their upcoming roles Monday night. Thirty-seven people were chosen to serve for the very first time this year and they have quite a bit to learn.
Mike Donofrio runs a body shop with his dad. As a father of two young children, he decided to run for school board to be part of the direction of the North Syracuse District instead of just watching from the outside.
“No one gave me a job description before I did this. When you get the petitions noone gives you a description that goes along with it, so you don’t really know, you can only just get some basics from other people and get feedback as to what you’re really getting into,” said Donofrio.
Each new school board member is given a binder with 15 different sections they need to be familiar with, as well as two books for their review: “Crucial Conversations" and "Becoming a better Board Member.”
It’s not just the commitment they lay out during the sessions, a lot of it has to do with the mandates laid out in strict law for each board member.
“What cay you say in executive session; why do you go into executive session; why isn’t everything that a Board of Education deals with out in front of the public,” said Charles Borgognoni, with the CNY School Boards Association.
"I think that's pretty important because there are so many things from an outsider looking in, you wouldn't know that part of it, and you might not know who to ask, so they have people who are well versed on that issue,” Donofrio continued.
Board members also need to know how to act as a body. Officially they’re a corporate body – together with the superintendent – which acts as CEO of the district.
"I don't know if I've really been surprised yet, but I haven't really been sworn in yet,” Donofrio said.
Nearly 400 people across the area serve voluntarily on school boards. They are not paid outside the city of Syracuse. They do it because they care about kids, schools and their community.
This is the 20th year the Central New York School Boards Association has offered its training workshops. The State only started mandating them across New York, last year.